Contributor: Suzanne Riordan. Lesson ID: 13947
Gas is to car as food is to __ ? Can you solve this word puzzle? Finding relationships between words will improve both your reading and your writing. Learn all about synonyms, antonyms, and analogies!
The images above reflect something French philosopher Voltaire once said:
Voltaire was making a comparison between men and books, noting a similarity between them.
This kind of comparison is called an analogy. It's just one of many ways to express relationships between words.
Let's explore some of them!
Synonyms are words that mean the same or almost the same thing, like cat and feline.
Using synonyms is a great way to improve your writing. For example, you could write:
My cat is the weirdest cat around. She's the only cat I know who scratches on the door to come in, then turns around and runs right back out again!
Readers will get bored if you keep using the same word over and over again. Here, the word cat is used three times! If you look up some synonyms for cat, you'll find:
So let's change the sentences to:
My cat is the weirdest feline around. She's the only kitty I know who scratches on the door to come in, then turns around and runs right back out again!
Synonyms also help when you're reading. Let's say you read the above sentence and hadn't seen the word feline before.
Try that method of figuring out a word with another sentence:
Senator Gluffwaff conceded the election because, after learning that he lost 54% of the vote, he had to acknowledge that Mrs. Looney was the winner.
Here, the sentence tells you that Gluffwaff conceded. It also tells you he acknowledged his opponent as the winner. From this, you can tell that to concede is to give in, to stop fighting, to acknowledge that someone else won.
Just as synonyms help us to vary our writing and figure out unknown words, so do antonyms. Antonyms are words that mean the opposite like:
Consider this sentence:
Jessica thought Gordon was the hero of the evening, but Medford considered him the worst skulker he ever met.
From this sentence, you can tell that Medford thought differently from Jessica. He did not consider Gordon a hero, but a skulker. You may never have seen the word skulker before, but here you can guess that it must mean the opposite of hero!
Many times, you will read a sentence with an unfamiliar word, and there is no synonym or antonym to help you figure it out.
Then, it's time to use context clues. Context clues are hints found in the sentence, or near it, which help reveal the meaning of the unknown word.
Mr. Samuel was explaining a hypothetical situation from the textbook. Greg thought he was referring to a news story, so he tried to look it up on the internet but couldn't find it.
Use context clues to figure out what hypothetical means.
Yes, hypothetical means imagined or suggested but not necessarily real or true (Cambridge Dictionary).
Always look at the sentences before or after to find context clues to determine the meaning of an unknown word.
Also, when you're writing, add context clues for your readers if you use a word they might not know.
Another way that writers show word relationships is to use analogies.
Analogies make you apply what you know about one thing to something else. It may be about the items' characteristics, locations, jobs, or purposes. The items may be similar or different.
For example, look at a lemon.
Analogies can be used to show relationships between:
Once you have a word relationship, you write another relationship that is similar:
To save time, write analogies this way:
Now, the hard part comes when one of the parts of the analogy is left blank and you have to figure it out!
Try this one:
fish: ocean:: camel:________
What makes analogies even harder is that you may have to find both parts of the second relationship. You may even be given several choices, some of which may seem to be the answer!
lightning: thunder:: ________
The best way to do this is to make a sentence showing the relationship:
The sound of lightning is called thunder.
Then, see which of the possible answers fits the same pattern.
The sound of ________ is called ________.
Wow, that was a lot to learn!
Go on to the Got It? section now!
Resources Referenced in the Lesson